Thursday, June 14, 2007

Soapbox Addendum

Amy got up on her soapbox about an issue that's been bugging me for a while. I decided my comment to her was worth it's own post in this space. (edited a little for grammar/clarity)

Hey Amy,

I was talking with a friend about my discomfort with the Triathlete magazine swimsuit issue. My friend was of the "Power to them and their athleticism" school of thought. I couldn't clarify what pissed me off about the cover.

Then I laid out my eight months of Triathlete magazine on the floor to show her other covers. She changed her mind, and I decided not to renew my subscription!

The covers were as follows:

  • Dec '06 - Robin Williams & Rudy Garcia (both men, in race gear, standing facing the camera)
  • Jan '07 - Norman Stadler (man, in race gear, standing with his bike, facing the camera)
  • Feb '07 - Craig Alexander (man, in race gear, racing action shot)
  • Feb '07 Kona/Clearwater special edition - Craig Alexander (man, in race gear, racing action shot)
  • Mar '07 - Katya Meyers (woman, in race gear, racing action shot)
  • Apr '07 - Fernanda Keller (woman, in a bikini, sideways to the camera and show a lot of leg)
  • May '07 - Andrew Hannan (man, in run gear, running action shot)
  • Jun '07 - Maxine Bahns (woman, in a bikini, in a pose that I can't objectively describe other than as overtly sexual)
  • Jul '07 - Oliver Marceau (man, in race gear, racing action shot)
Six covers with men, three with women. Not great but could be worse. BUT, of the times when the women get cover space there's only one where the woman is racing and/or in racing gear whereas EVERY man on the cover is racing and/or in racing gear. None of the guys are in quasi-porn star poses, but are shown as athletes competing or ready to compete.

What pisses me off is that the last two times a woman made the cover her pose and clothing had little to do with triathlon, athleticism or anything positive but is sexually provocative. They're using sex to sell, and that's not what triathlon is to me. I've looked at back issues and the sexed-up women on the cover seems to be a new thing, hopefully not a trend.


Jason said...

Sounds like it's time for a letter to the editors.

Someone recently taught me The Rules for such letters. I was clueless about such things, and always wrote stuff that was too long, unfocused, or grouchy. In case someone missed a rule or two with you, here they are:

1) 12 sentences max. 4 paragraphs max. "12" does not mean "14, but two lines are real zingers." It means 12.

2) You are the angry parent. Write accordingly. People have training buried deep in their brains about authority, and will jump if you are quick to take the upper hand.

3) Your feelings are not important. You are writing to warn them, not to vent. In fact, you are a friend of theirs, and trying to save them from themselves.

To wit....


Dear _______

I have to warn you, the latest cover of Triathlete Magazine has already lost you sales. What were you thinking?

Your fastest growing market segment is women. All of these women bristle when they're not taken seriously. And yet, in the past nine issues, two out of three female cover shot had nothing to do with athletics, and everything to do with posing and looking pretty. By contrast, the male cover shots showed serous athletes doing serious things.

This isn't hard - take your audience seriously, and they'll buy your magazine. Take your fastest-growing audience seriously, and you'll grow faster.

These pretty poses look like a recent trend, so there's time to undo the damage. I wish you every success in this regard. Maybe then, I'll renew my subscription.


Give 'em a firm shake - it's for their own good. :)

Foxtrot said...

Ahh! I bought that exact magazine last night!!! Before I grabbed the mag off of the rack only the name of the magazine "Triathlete" was visible to me because there were other mags in front of it. When I did see the cover shot I was confused. Very confused. Swimsuit Edition? I thought that I had pulled down and triATHLETE magazine not Sports Illustrated. I guess it didn't make me all that angry because I still bought it but I'm still a little confused by the cover shot...